Chamber’s Valor Awards Honored Local Superheroes in Public Service

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Provided by Prince William Chamber of Commerce

Photos by Mark Gilvey | Mark Gilvey Creative

On March 17, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce hosted their 30th Annual Valor Awards at Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. Sponsored by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, the ceremony honored 25 local heroes from police, fire and rescue for their courageous and often lifesaving actions in 2015. This year’s theme was “Honoring Local Superheroes.”

As public safety officials, their families, elected representatives and members of the general public came through the doors of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, they were asked to put on a blue ribbon in honor of Prince William County Police Officers Jesse Hempen, David McKeown and Ashley Guindon. In recent weeks the three have been in the news following a domestic violence call where all three were shot and Officer Guindon lost her life.

Close to 300 attendees enjoyed a reception catered by Okra’s Cajun Creole followed by the awards ceremony where Aaron Gilchrist, Anchor of News4 Today served as Master of Ceremonies. Gilchrist read the stories of local super heroes and their acts of valor. (winner stories available hereclick on each tab to see stories by category) Awards were given to men and women in uniform representing Virginia State Police, Prince William County Police Department, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, City of Manassas Police Department, City of Manassas Department of Fire and Rescue and the Town of Occoquan Police Department. Mark Gilvey Creative was on hand to take photos of the award recipients.

 As the long-time Presenting Sponsor, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center played a prominent role in the program.  “The Valor Awards have always held significance to the Prince William community,” said Stephen Porter, Corporate Vice President of Sentara Northern Virginia and President of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in reference to the incident involving Officers Guindon, Hempen and McKeown.  “These individuals represent the best in us and demonstrate the passion that those who are called to duty serve others over self.”

 At the close of the event, Chamber Chairwoman Dalena Kanouse remarked, ”The quality of life here in the Prince William region is improved every day by our local superheroes- the men and women who serve as police, fire and rescue workers. Today we celebrate you for all you do for us.” She then led the crowd in a standing ovation for those in uniform.

Sponsors of the event included Dominion Virginia Power; Youth for Tomorrow; Okra’s Cajun Creole; INOVA; Novant UVA Health System; Cardinal Bank; NOVEC-Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative; Chick-fil-A at Bristow; Prince William Living and the Prince William Times/Gainesville Times.

PW Valor Awards photo

Winners of the 30th Annual Valor Awards are:

 Gold Medal for Valor

  • Lieutenant Scott Kearns, Prince William County Police Department
  • Technician I Shawn Bliss, Prince William County Department of Fire & Rescue

 Silver Medal for Valor

  • Officer Ryan D. Rowland, Prince William County Police Department

 Bronze Medal for Valor

  • Sergeant David Bliss, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Michael Casey, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Sean Richards, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Nicholas Colella, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Eric Davis, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Chad Weyant, Prince William County Police Department
  • Detective Robyn Hyatt, Prince William County Police Department
  • Detective Matthew Newbauer, Prince William County Police Department
  • Sergeant Victor Tomsko, Prince William County Police Department
  • Officer Chad Weyant, Prince William County Police Department 
  • Trooper Christopher Grzelak, Virginia Department of State Police
  • Chief Sheldon E. Levi, Town of Occoquan Police Department
  • Senior Police Officer Justin Lehman, City of Manassas Police Department
  • Officer Yvette Sturman, City of Manassas Police Department

 Merit Award for Valor

  • Officer Adam Gardiner, Prince William County Police Department
  • Lieutenant R. Dan Grinnell, Prince William County Police Department
  • Captain Andrew Carver, City of Manassas Department of Fire & Rescue

 Hillary Robinette Award

  • Detective Robyn Hyatt, Prince William Police Department

 Investigative Merit Award

  • Detective Renee Carr, Prince William County Police Department
  • Detective Juan Marquez, Prince William County Police Department
  • Retired Detective Richard Martindell, Prince William County Police Department
  • Crime Scene Analyst Renee Jacques, Prince William County Police Department
  • Crime Scene Analyst Kenneth Werner, Prince William County Police Department
  • Animal Control Supervisor Lorie Newsome, Prince William County Police Department

 A full list of winners and their stories are available at pwchamber.org/events/valor/2016-valor-awards-winners

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